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National law firm DWF consolidates all information management requirements with a full suite of services from Iron Mountain
DWF is one of the fastest growing law firms in the UK. It offers a full range of services for both business and private clients with teams covering all aspects of law, as well as providing specialist advice across a range of sectors. The firm has more than doubled in size in less than three years, achieved through both organic growth and mergers and acquisitions. Today, DWF employs over 2,500 people across 11 locations in the UK and Ireland and has international reach through its relationships with law firms around the globe.
Like all law firms, DWF generates and needs to retain a vast range of documents such as client files, case notes, securities, wills, and property deeds as well as its own corporate files. Safe and secure storage, with fast and dependable access to records as required is vital to its business. With space in its offices at a premium, DWF entered into a long-term contract with Iron Mountain for offsite records management and storage, which included the collection and secure destruction of documents no longer required.
The Service Delivery Manager at DWF, says: “Our ambition is to become a top 20 law firm and we need suppliers that are able to support our business as it grows. Iron Mountain proved it could do just that, having both the scale and range of services that our business needs. It also showed a strong commitment to working in partnership with us.”
With every merger comes the opportunity for synergy savings from economies of scale through consolidation, harmonisation, and standardisation of processes and procedures. Following a merger, one of the prime areas of opportunity is the optimisation of information and records management. With Iron Mountain as its preferred supplier, DWF has set a policy to standardise information management services wherever possible. At the same time, it’s focusing on deriving business benefit from new information management solutions such as records digitisation.
Building on early success, DWF has progressively increased the number of different services it takes from Iron Mountain and, today, that scope extends across the full Iron Mountain portfolio. The process starts with the paper archives, as the Service Delivery Manager explains: “When we have merged with or acquired another firm we develop plans to transition storage to Iron Mountain. We currently have more than 92,000 boxes of files in store with Iron Mountain. This is set to increase to over 200,000 boxes in the coming year as further records are consolidated.”
New files earmarked for offsite storage are catalogued and boxed by designated co-ordinators at each of the firm’s offices. DWF uses the IM Connect™ online portal to index documents against a unique bar code and to log collection requests. That same portal is used to request files for retrieval, against the standard next business day or premium same-day service.
“Iron Mountain has storage locations close to all our offices, which means we can get to our files quickly whenever we need them,” says the Service Delivery Manager, “very few, if any, other suppliers could do that.”
DWF has centralised its application and file servers at sites in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds and conducts regular back-ups to safeguard business continuity. Iron Mountain provides data protection services, collecting the back-up tapes for offsite secure storage on a daily or bi-weekly basis as required. Tapes are rotated according to a defined schedule, so that each time a tape is collected, a previous back-up tape is returned for re-use. Should data recovery ever be required, Iron Mountain can deliver the required tape to any UK address within hours, at any time of the day or night.
By consolidating its information management services with Iron Mountain, DWF has been able to standardise processes across its business and derive economies of scale. “Iron Mountain has a very competitive pricing model,” remarks the Service Delivery Manager. “Once the full transition is complete we estimate we’ll be achieving cost savings of up to 20 per cent.”
Teamwork is paramount to the success of the DWF approach to information management and the DWF and Iron Mountain teams meet regularly. Scheduled meetings include a monthly liaison meeting, a quarterly business review, and an annual innovation session. “We find Iron Mountain to be a very innovative partner,” affirms the Service Delivery Manager, “always thinking out-of-the-box to help us find new and more efficient ways of working.” An example is the Iron Mountain Accutrac® application currently on trial at the DWF Preston office.
Specifically designed for the legal profession, Accutrac® is a document management application that helps track the precise location of files within an organisation, creating full traceability and chain-of-custody records. Each file is assigned a unique barcode identity at creation and this is used to record the location of the file using a wireless PDA as it moves between people, departments and offices.
“In Preston we have people spread over three floors,” says the Service Delivery Manager. “Using Accutrac® has enabled us to track the location and know precisely where any file is. It is helping to improve efficiency and security.” Given the positive feedback from the trial, DWF is considering extending the Accutrac® rollout to its other offices.
In addition to its standard services, Iron Mountain has tailored a number of propositions specifically for DWF. For instance, as well as serving all DWF offices, Iron Mountain has extended its service to support the DWF agile working programme by delivering documents to and collecting confidential waste from home-based DWF team members. Recently, Iron Mountain has begun to digitise selected files for DWF, making them available to view or download over the web via its highly secure Digital Records Centre for Images (DRCI).
The Service Delivery Manager sums up: “The service we get from Iron Mountain is second to none. We have a single point of contact backed by a supportive and responsive service team that understands our business and always does its best to meet our needs.”